Explore fine arts, history, and take in a show in Worcester, a medium sized city in Central Massachusetts about an hour's drive west of Boston. Worcester's seven hills and their valleys contain top notch museums, nine colleges and universities, beautiful parks, and food from all over the globe.
Worcester was established as a town on June 14, 1722 and as a city on February 29, 1848. It has a population of around 200,000 and is the second largest city in New England, behind Boston. Worcester is the home of nine colleges and universities, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the Massachusetts Bio-Technology Research Park, and the American Antiquarian Society. Despite their large number, Worcester's colleges and universities have not left much of an imprint on the overall feel of the city--for better and for worse, it is not the least bit a college town. Worcester has a very low rate of violent crime compared to the comparably sized city Providence, Rhode Island. It also has lots of parks, greenspace, small bodies of water, and tree-lined streets.
Worcester is one of the snowiest cities in New England, receiving around 70 inches (175 cm) a year on average. Typically, snowfall is dominated by large, long duration events and the city is usually hit with several noreasters each year and the occasional blizzard. As an older, hilly city, snow removal is very poor and only the main roads will be well cleared. Some side streets may be snow covered for days after a storm. Summers can be pretty hot, but not for extended periods of time. Spring and fall are both exceedingly pleasant, with temperatures during the day between 60-70°F (16-21°C) and either blooming flowers or brilliant fall colors. Worcester's reputation for snow doesn't carry over into rain, although it does have a decent amount of rain.
- Downtown: Downtown Worcester is the area around Worcester Common, radiating out several blocks in all directions. Much of downtown is devoted to office workers, so most restaurants close before dinner. Downtown is where many of the city's larger music venues and theaters are as well as the DCU Center, but unless there is an event, the area is mostly deserted at night although there are a few highly respected restaurants that are exceptions to the rule. The city is trying to change this state of affairs by encouraging the construction of more housing, which will spur more after work activities in the area.
- Blackstone Canal District: Commonly referred to as the Canal District, this area of the city used to be an industrial zone centered on the long covered up Blackstone Canal. While there are still some industrial uses, much of the space has been converted into restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. There are also some fairly expensive condos/apartments. There is an effort to re-open the canal in this part of the city, but it has yet to gain much traction.
- Main South: This is the area south of downtown along Main St until it ends at Webster Square. Main South has a reputation for crime, although the southern end of the neighborhood is increasingly dominated by Clark University and is home to coffee shops and college bars. The neighborhood is one of Worcester's most diverse and there are many cheap restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world.
- Piedmont: Piedmont is defined roughly by Chandler St to the south, Salisbury St to the north, Park Ave to the west, and Downtown to the east. The neighborhood is filled with beautiful old houses and a few grand apartment buildings, but is largely student housing for WPI and Becker College students, both of which are in the neighborhood. Elm Park, the city's oldest, is at the western end of the neighborhood. Highland Ave is the main dining and nightlife destination, running east-west along the northern side of the neighborhood. Worcester Art Museum is at the eastern edge of the neighborhood.
- Westside: The largely residential Westside is Worcester's most affluent neighborhood. The definition is somewhat fluid, but is essentially anything west of Park Ave/West Boylston St. This is a fairly hilly, tree covered area filled with large homes, many of which were built during Worcester's industrial peak. Worcester State University and Assumption College are on the Westside, but the area feels more like a suburb than a college town. There are many parks, small restaurants, and even a few lakes.
- Greendale-Burncoat: This is the area north and northeast of downtown. There are a lot of factories in the valley stretching north of downtown while the hills above it are filled with residential areas. Green Hill Park, the largest in the city, is here as is Greendale Mall and quite a few restaurants. Great Brook Valley, the most dangerous part of the city, is found at the fringe of Greendale-Burncoat, but there is little that would take a traveler here.
- Eastside: People visually associate Worcester with two things: hills and triple deckers (boxy, narrow, 3-floor houses). Both of these are found in abundance in the Eastside. There is very little flat ground in this part of the city. Worcester's main dining area, Shrewsbury St, is at the northern end of the neighborhood as is UMass Medical School. The eastern boundary is Lake Quinsigamond and the southern boundary is Route 20. The Ecotarium is here as are Quinsigamond State Park and Lake Park.
- South Worcester: South Worcester is home to the College of the Holy Cross and everything south of it. For travel purposes, the developed parts of the town of Auburn are here which includes most of the city's hotels and Auburn Mall.
Logan International Airport (BOS IATA) in Boston or T.F. Green Airport in Warwick carry the bulk of passengers in the area, although they are each around an hour away from the city. Or, you could fly into Bradley International Airport in Hartford which is a little over an hour west of the city. There is train service from Boston to Worcester. Worcester does have its own airport, but its not well served.
- 1 Worcester Regional Airport (ORH IATA), 375 Airport Drive,, ☏ . Served by JetBlue and American Airlines, with Delta service slated to begin in 2019. Service to and from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Philadelphia, New York City, and Detroit (slated to begin in 2019). The airport is located on a hill and is a few miles from Downtown, but is well connected with WRTA bus and taxi services.
Worcester only has one train station, 2 Union Station, which is downtown next to the city's main bus terminal. From here you can also walk to the Blackstone Canal District or Shrewsbury St.
- MBTA's Framingham Worcester Line: $12.50 one-way. Often takes an hour to an hour and a half, between South Station in Boston and Union Station in Worcester, depending on if on a local or express train. MBTA Commuter Rail is generally not reliable in extreme winter weather so plan around that if necessary. The Worcester line is also susceptible to warping in warm weather, which forces the trains to slow down sometimes in the summer. Trains to Worcester are infrequent in the morning while trains to Boston are infrequent in the evening.
- Amtrak, 2 Washington Sq. (Union Station). There is a daily train from Boston to Chicago, the Lake Shore Limited, that stops in Worcester. This train also arrives from Chicago every day, but Amtrak does not accept boardings at Worcester in the direction of Boston (though you may ride from Boston to Worcester). In most cases, train travel to Worcester is most reliably and conveniently made by traveling to Boston on Amtrak, then on MBTA to Worcester (or vice versa).
- 3 Peter Pan Bus Lines, 2 Washington Sq. (Union Station), toll-free: . If traveling to Boston, be sure to specify South Station unless you're going to the Airport. Connections to Greyhound stations; local trips to Springfield, Boston, Hartford, and beyond.
- 4 Greyhound Bus Lines, 2 Washington Sq. (Union Station), ☏ , toll-free: .
- Worcester is well served by highways. Interstate 290 runs through Worcester and connects to Interstate 495, Interstate 190, Interstate 395, and Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike). Most visitors to the city will arrive by car. Traffic on I-90 near Worcester can move very slowly at almost any time of day, especially on holiday weekends. Once you arrive, parking probably won't be an issue as there is ample street parking and public parking lots and garages.
Many of Worcester's points of interest are far spaced from one another. The only practical way to get around is by car (or bike). Public transit in Worcester is focused mainly on commuters. Cabs are often more expensive per mile than cabs in other cities. If you're there for more than just a visit, bicycles are available from many used stores and are the best way to get around and explore. Buses in the city usually run every 30 to 60 minutes, with some running only every two hours depending on the route. Fare is $1.75; true day-passes are no longer offered—available now is an 8-ride pass good for one person, good one day only. Buses on certain routes are often a half-hour or more late, but be at your stop early as they often fly by a few minutes early in order to catch up for previous late stops.
Worcester does have a bus system, but it can be infrequent and confusing to navigate. Depending upon where you are going, the bus system may be an inefficient way to get around the city as nearly all routes run in a spoke-like fashion from the terminal adjacent to Union Station. Planning a route with ample time for connections and schedule deviations is essential. Real-time stop predictions are generally available.
- 5 Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA, "The RTA"), 60 Foster St., ☏ . Adult $1.75; Pass for up to 8 rides (expires 1 day, good 1 person only) for $4.50. CharlieCard accepted.
- Yellow Cab, ☏ .
- Red Cab, ☏ , .
Worcester is surprisingly hard to navigate on foot. The city covers a large area by New England standards and despite having a "downtown," the focal points for visitors are spread throughout the city, making them hard to reach on foot. Throw in poor sidewalks and aggressive drivers and you can understand why there aren't very many pedestrians.
The most efficient, if not the most enjoyable way to get around the city. Driving in Worcester is not for the timid. Although Boston may get the most attention for aggressive drivers in New England, Worcester is by most measures worse. An insurance study ranked Worcester as the worst city to drive in in the United States, based on accident rate. Traffic is not nearly as bad as in Boston, but there are significant backups at rush hour and lane markings may be nonexistent in parts of the city. Road quality is good on most roads, but unpaved streets still exist in some areas.
There is no street grid to help orient yourself and driving here will probably require a GPS or someone else using a map to direct you. Interstate 190/290 can become very congested at rush hour (4-6 pm). Streets in the core city like Park Ave, Highland Ave, Main St, and Cambridge St, can be backed up at nearly any time of day, even on weekends.
There is a surprising amount to see in Worcester. Many travelers might only consider it worth a day trip, but this would be mistaken. The Worcester Art Museum alone is big enough to occupy an entire day. Leaving aside the city's museums, you may still want to take a stroll through one of the city's historic parks or college campuses.
Museums and galleriesEdit
Worcester has a museum for everyone. In addition to the Worcester Art Museum, there is an interesting little history museum and a science and nature center that is great for kids. The Museum of Russian Icons is in nearby Clinton.
- 1 Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St, ☏ . W-Su 11AM-5PM, Th 11AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. The Worcester Art Museum (WAM) is one of the most under-rated attractions in New England. If it weren't for its proximity to the much better known Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, WAM might get more recognition. WAM is the second largest art museum in New England, covering four floors and every period from ancient Egypt to today. The museum acquired the collection of the defunct Higgins Armory museum, giving it the largest collection of arms and armor in the United States. While WAM does not have the space to display the whole collection, they do put on a series of rotating exhibits featuring pieces from the collection integrated with other related art. If you arrive before noon on Saturday, admission is free. $14.
- 2 EcoTarium - A Museum of Science and Nature, 222 Harrington Way, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Great zoo with a Polar bear and working, kid-sized diesel train and more. $10; Seniors, students ages 3-18 $8. Planetarium, train, tree walkway are extra.
- 3 Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm Street, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, Th 10AM-8:30PM. Small museum in a beautiful old building that presents the city's history. Worcester Historical Museum features a rotating art exhibit and a section dedicated to the various manufacturing industries that built the city. Also has a room dedicated to the "smiley face," which was invented in Worcester.
- 4 Salisbury Mansion, 40 Highland Street, ☏ . Historic house museum that is part of the Worcester History Museum. Admission to the house is included in admission to the history museum, just keep your ticket and present it at the mansion. Former home of the Salisbury family, once the wealthiest in the city. The house is now the oldest structure in the city, having been built in the 18th century. The tour covers the history of the house and the family who built it, but also touches on aspects of life in the very early history of Worcester.
- 5 Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow Street. Gallery and artist studio that showcases local artists
- 6 ArtsWorcester, 660 Main Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Sa noon-4PM. Art gallery displaying local contemporary works.
Architecture buffs and photographers will appreciate Worcester's collection of historic buildings and monuments.
- 6 Union Station, 2 Washington Sq.. Worcester's pride and joy. This amazing work of art dates back to the glory days of rail roads, tycoons, and Worcester's position as the home to Pullman's Dining Car Company. Abandoned in the 1970s, it was revived to its original glory in 2000 after a $32-million campaign to save the station. Notice the turn of the century relics as you walk in (such as marble walls and thirty foot ceilings). Train to Boston $12.50, Children 11 and under free.
- 7 Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial, Skyline Drive, Green Hill Park (http://www.massvvm.org/map/). daytime. Dedicated in June 2002, the 4-acre location includes a pond, walking paths and the memorial. A place to provide a dignified, quiet, natural location for reflection and learning. The memorial is designed in three sections called places. These consist of the Place of Flags, Place of Words and Place of Names. The Place of Words shows text from letters written home by some of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who died in Vietnam. The Place of Names proclaims in stone the name of each and every Massachusetts resident who died in combat or as a result of wounds received while in action in Vietnam. Free.
- 8 [dead link] Bancroft Tower, Bancroft Tower Rd (Drive to the top of the hill). A folly built to commemorate the achievements of George Bancroft by Worcester's richest man at the time, Stephen Salisbury. Bancroft Tower sort of looks like it belongs in an old castle. It is in a wooded park at the top of a hill. Usually the interior of the tower is closed to the public, but occasionally it is open and the view from the top looks out over all of Worcester.
- 9 [dead link] Worcester Common. Worcester, like many Massachusetts towns and cities, has an historic town common at its center. Worcester Common was created in 1669 with 20 acres (12 ha). The city's development has since shrunk that to 4.4 acres (1.8 ha). Worcester Common is undergoing a renovation to add newer and bigger sidewalks in addition to more seating areas.
- 10 Worcester City Hall, 455 Main St. Worcester City Hall is a sight to see. Built in 1898 at the height of Worcester's industrial prominence, City Hall was built in the Italianate style and has an imposing granite exterior.
- 11 Burnside Fountain (on the south side of the Worcester Common). Is known to locals as "Turtle-Boy". The fountain features a boy and a turtle engaged in what any reasonable observer would have to conclude is an obscene -- or at least nonconsensual -- act. Not many, if any, people know what it truly represents, so judge for yourself.
- 12 Soldiers' Monument (Worcester Common). 60-foot (18-m) monument built in 1874 in honor of Worcester's Civil War dead.
The city boasts many parks for the enjoyment of residents and visitors from the largest Green Hill Park to Elm Park and Institute Park which hosts many outdoor concerts during the summer season.
- 13 Hadwen Arboretum, 950 Main St, ☏ . Century-old trees & 40 plant species share space at this campus woodland offering trails & a garden. Part of Clark University.
- 14 [dead link] Elm Park, 284 Highland St. The grand old lady of Worcester parks. The land the park sits on was purchased by the city in 1854 making it one of the first purchases of land to be set aside for a public park in the U.S. The park is undergoing renovations, but the old iron bridge over the pond in the middle has been restored.
- 15 Newton Hill (across Park Ave from Elm Park). Part of Elm Park, but you must cross Park Ave to get to it. Newton Hill has a disc golf course and trails leading to the top. The view would be impressive if not for the trees.
- 16 Institute Park (Salisbury St between Park and Grove). Sweeping park overlooking Institute Pond, built on donated land in 1887. Holds many festivals and concerts throughout the summer.
- 17 Green Hill Park, 50 Skyline Dr. This 480-acre (210-ha) park is by far the largest in the city. In fact, it's so large, you may forget that you're in the middle of a city at all. Green Hill Park is on top of a hill northeast of downtown and has walking trails, a lake, the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a public golf course complete with club house restaurant.
- 18 [dead link] Hadwen Park (along the east side of Heard St.). 50-acre park in South Worcester that has easy hiking trails and some wildlife.
Worcester is home to many colleges and universities. A lot of the campuses are newer, with fairly dull contemporary architecture. However, the city's three oldest private institutions are quite pretty. Look for lectures open to the public at all three while you're in town.
- 19 College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St. Worcester's oldest and prettiest institution of higher education. Explore the warren of old brick buildings perched on a hillside overlooking the city.
- 20 Seelos Theater (Bottom of the campus). This theater shows a selection of Oscar-nominated and blockbuster movies once a week during the semester for free. Open to the general public. In fact, most of the audience is usually non-students.
- 21 Cantor Art Gallery. Campus art gallery showing both historical and contemporary works for the benefit of the community.
- 22 Clark University, 950 Main St, ☏ . Clark University maintains a scenic campus in the heart of Worcester's Main South Neighborhood.
- 23 Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Rd. The older parts of this campus are perched on a ridge line between Highland Avenue and Institute Park.
Worcester has a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy. In the spring, summer, and fall, there is nearly always some sort of festival happening. Worcester also has a track record of attracting solid musical performances. Pop stars at the DCU Center, classical at Mechanics Hall, and metal at the Palladium. Worcester's sports teams are all minor league, but offer affordable entertainment.
- Worcester St. Patrick's Day Parade, Mid-March. Park Ave. One of the largest Irish parades in the state.
- Albanian Festival, early June, alternating odd numbered years, St. Mary's Albanian Orthodox Church. Largest Albanian festival in the country
- Grecian Festival], early June, alternating even numbered years. St. Spyridon Church. One of the largest Greek Festivals in New England with over 25,000 attendees
- Summer Nationals, July 4 weekend, hot rods and fancy cars take over Green Hill Park and downtown Worcester (the organizers have put the event "on hold" for 2017)
- Italian Festival [dead link], mid-August, Mt. Carmel Church. Very popular annual festival in the city.
- Latin American Festival, Mid-August, City Hall, Downtown Worcester. One of the largest Latin American festivals in New England.
- Pet Rock Festival, early September, held at Quinsigamond Community College. Largest non-profit animal benefit in New England. Held annually to make money for shelters and other animal related services. "They can't talk so we will."
- StART on the Street. September, Park Avenue. Huge street festival featuring over 200 local vendors and artists, food, and live music and performance art. StART also holds StART in the Park (spring) and StART at the Station (Christmas time).
- [dead link] Canalfest (Harding St in the Canal District). Celebrate the Canal District every September with this street festival. Food stalls, artists & other vendors, displays, a giant raffle, canal replica, kayak rides, and street performances.
- Paulie's New Orleans Jazz & Blues Festival, 152 Green St. Held every June, come hear live Jazz and Blues music.
Sports and outdoorsEdit
- 1 Worcester Red Sox, 122 Madison St. Apr-Sept. The Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play at Polar Park.
- Worcester Green Hill Municipal Golf Club, 2 Green Hill Av, ☏ . Apr-mid Dec. 18 hole, 6487 yds, Par 72, CR-70.4, S-122. Public.
- 2 Quinsigamond State Park, 10 North Lake Av, ☏ . Sunrise-sunset. This state park has a public beach, sailing center, fishing spots, and a picnic area, right in the city. Parking $15/day, MA residents $8.
- Worcester Fencing Club, 243 Stafford Street..
- Pakachoag Golf Course, 15 Upland St, Auburn, ☏ . Grab a tee time at this public golf course that is also the launch site for Robert Goddard's first rocket.
- Central Rock Climbing Gym, 299 Barber Ave. M-F 10AM-10PM except Th 10AM-11PM, Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 10AM-7PM. Central Massachusetts' largest indoor rock climbing gym with around 14,000 square feet of climbing area, and climbing walls from 15 to over 40 feet. Though many hardcore climbers frequent the gym, the terrain difficulty ranges from beginner to expert, and there is a separate beginners area and a wall just for kids also. Don't worry if you've never climbed before, this place is super welcoming and the staff is great! A small retail shop near the main desk sells climbing accessories and clothing. Upstairs there is a lounge area complete with free Wi-Fi, and a yoga room that can be used for stretching when yoga classes are not practicing. Waiver forms are needed for anyone who wants to climb, and minors need a parental signature. Memberships are available, but day passes for are $14 for adults, $12 for students. They also offer early bird specials before 2PM. If you're only interested in bouldering, its $10. Shoes, harnesses, and chalk can all be rented at the front desk..
- Crystal Caves Family Entertainment Center, 790 Southbridge St, Auburn, ☏ . F 10AM-10PM, Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-7PM. Mini golf, batting cages, homemade ice cream.
- Broadmeadow Brook, 414 Massasoit Rd, ☏ . Hike the well-marked trails in the largest urban wildlife refuge in New England.
- Blackstone Canal District Wagon Tour (Kelley Square). Explore the history of the Blackstone Canal and Worcester's transformation from an agricultural village into an industrial powerhouse. Tours leave from Kelley Square on Thursday evenings in July and August. Free.
- Worcester Ice Center, 112 Harding St, ☏ , email@example.com. The Worcester Ice Center is a multi-use dual rink facility located in the Canal District. Home of the Worcester Railers. Public skate is usually open on weekend afternoons. Attached (hipster) cafe. $5 public skate $5 skate rental.
Arts and theaterEdit
- Music Worcester, Mechanics Hall, 323 Main St, ☏ . Presenter of the Worcester Music Festival (the oldest music festival in the United States), the International Artist Series and the Mass Jazz Festival.
- Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St, toll-free: . Restored downtown theatre staging professional touring productions and national comedians and musical acts.
- ArtsWorcester, 660 Main St, ☏ . Organization which promotes art programs and exhibitions throughout the city. Schedule available.
- Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, Tuckerman Hall, 10 Tuckerman St, ☏ . Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra's annual activities include the admission-free Summer Concert Series in Worcester's Institute Park as well as symphonic and 'pops' performances in Worcester's Tuckerman and Mechanics Halls before audiences numbering in the thousands.
- Seven Hills Symphony. A community orchestra affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, has concerts occasionally throughout the year.
- 3 DCU Center, 50 Foster St, ☏ , fax: . Over 14,000-seat arena. Convention facilities, concerts, trade shows, sporting events. Most major acts passing through the area will perform at the DCU Center.
- 4 Hanover Theatre, 554 Main St, ☏ . 2300-seat theater. The Hanover was built in 1904 as Franklin Square Theater and hosted Burlesque acts and travelling Broadway shows. It was soon converted to a movie theater and stayed in business until 1998. After a lengthy fundraising campaign, it reopened in 2008 and was named after a local insurance company which provided seed funding. Today it has returned to its roots as a space for live performances, hosting prominent speakers and Broadway shows.
- 5 Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St, ☏ . Pre-Civil War era concert hall. Grand Hall seating 1,600. Concerts (classical, jazz, popular music), lectures, business meetings. Mechanics Hall was built in 1857 by the workers of Worcester for educational and cultural activities. In 1864, the Hook Organ was installed and it is now the oldest unaltered four keyboard organ in the Western Hemisphere. The hall fell into disrepair in the 20th century and was almost torn down during a wave of urban renewal. It was saved and restored in the late 1970s.
- 6 Tuckerman Hall, 10 Tuckerman St (corner of Salisbury St. and Tuckerman St.), ☏ . Neo-classically-designed, triangular-shaped building, next to the Worcester Art Museum, contains a breathtaking 550-seat main hall adorned with magnificent plaster detail and ornate gold leaf. A pristine circular auditorium seating 200 and six fireplaced turret suites, each with a different architectural motif including Colonial, Dutch, Moorish, and Renaissance revival styles.
- 7 Palladium, 261 Main St, ☏ , fax: . Built in 1928 as the Plymouth Theater, this popular venue holds about 2500 for concerts. The Palladium holds a variety of acts, but the majority are metal/rock.
Worcester has a fair number of high schools, colleges and universities in its region.
- 1 Assumption College, 500 Salisbury St.
- 2 Clark University, 950 Main St.
- 3 College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St.
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 19 Foster St.
- 4 Quinsigamond Community College, 670 W Boylston St, ☏ .
- 5 University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Ave N.
- 6 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), 100 Institute Rd, ☏ .
- 7 Worcester State University, 486 Chandler St, ☏ .
Despite being the second largest city in New England, Worcester is not a shopping mecca. There is one small mall in the city that's of no interest to travelers. Downtown used to be home to many department stores and then a large indoor mall. The mall has since been torn down and the department stores are gone. There are three malls in the suburbs of Auburn, Millbury, and Berlin, but these also aren't of much interest to the traveler. Worcester does have a few interesting stores to check out though. There is no main shopping district; shops are spread throughout the city.
- 1 Auburn Mall, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM, store hours may differ from mall hours. Shopping and eating, includes stores including Macys, Forever 21, Sears, and Filenes Express. Ice skating: indoor rink
- That's Entertainment, 244 Park Av, ☏ . If you have any interest in comic books, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, roleplaying, etc., check this out.
- Hung Thinh Oriental Market, 15 Parker St. Sells whole, frozen durian.
- FYC (Fuck Yea Center), 420 Pleasant St (the old HBML). Cool punk/skate shoppe, sells good records, skateboards, t-shirts, DVD, VHS, cassette tapes, mixed cassette tapes, skate decks (local and int'l), trucks, wheels, bearings, pants, hats, mystery boxes, etc. There's a quarter pipe inside (!) and they do lots of cool events on the regs.
- Bahnan's International Marketplace, 344 Pleasant St, ☏ . Mediterranean grocery store carrying everything you can't get at the supermarket. Obscure (for North America) spices and other ingredients can be found here as well as many other items such as tahini that can be found in supermarkets, but are significantly cheaper at Bahnan's. There is also a bulk feta section where you can choose your cheese by origin and ask for a specific amount. Prices for the cheaper options are about half what you would pay elsewhere in the region. Bahnan's also has a small cafe in case all this shopping makes you hungry.
- Grime, 356 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Hip new and used clothing boutique on trendy Shrewsbury St.
- Trunk & Disorderly, 122 Main Street, ☏ . Funky downtown consignment shop.
- Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Market, 408 Pleasant St., ☏ . If you need a fancier version of something from Bahnan's, head a few doors down to Ed Hyder's, another fully stocked Mediterranean market that also sells wine.
Blackstone Canal DistrictEdit
- Alexis Grace Consignment, 7 Harrison Street, ☏ . Consignment shop in a renovated mill building in the Canal District.
- Birch Alley, 19 Harrison St, ☏ . Unique home decor shop in the Canal District
- Crompton Collective, 138 Green St, ☏ . Huge and eclectic consignment shop in the basement of the old Crompton Loom Works. Crompton Collective carries everything from vintage furniture and statuary to souvenirs made by local artists. You don't have to spend any money to make this worth a visit, just browsing the alcoves is a good time on its own.
Worcester provides a dining experience to suit all tastes. Everything from massive, opulent fine dining restaurants to "is this even a restaurant?" holes in the wall can be found here. Major global cuisines (Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese) are quite common. You can even find Afghan, Salvadorian, and Polish food scattered around the city. Shrewsbury St. is the city's emerging "Restaurant Row," where you will find the greatest concentration and variety of dining options.
Worcester is full of cheap places to eat. Most of these will get you a meal for under $10.
- Coney Island Hot Dogs, 158 Southbridge St, ☏ . Open W-M (best hot dogs, best sign) If you go to Coney Island, make sure you go into the bar. The bartender will get you your hot dogs and beer, letting you skip the line.
- Long Island Hot Dogs, 68 Stafford St, ☏ . (best burger) A true diamond in the rough. A real greasy spoon dinner hidden in a stripmall.
- New England Roast Beef, 33 Park Ave, ☏ . Great roast beef; however, their hours are more limited than many of Worcester's dining options. Supposedly, the roast beef sandwich was invented in Massachusetts. This may be an urban legend, but roast beef sandwiches are a local specialty and New England Roast Beef is the standard setter for the region. They have a pretty extensive menu, but the reason to come here is the beef. Get the biggest sandwich you think you can finish.
- Major League Roast Beef, 503 Washington St, Auburn, ☏ . While it has a different name and website, Major League Roast Beef has the exact same menu (and probably same owner) as New England Roast Beef. If on the south end of the city and craving roast beef, you can come here instead of driving through Worcester.
- Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant, 157 Belmont St, ☏ . One of Worcester's most consistently loved restaurants. Don't let the seemingly sketchy location scare you away. If anything happens, the hospital is just down the street.
- Sol of Mexico, 538 Pleasant St, ☏ . Barebones authentic Mexican cuisine. Very simple menu, but well executed. Also has a lime green tin ceiling
- Wooberry, 141 Highland St. A short walk from WPI, you will find Worcester's standard for frozen yogurt. Wooberry is not self serve, you don't pay by the pound, and there aren't 30 flavors. What you do get is a quality product. They generally have vanilla, chocolate, and a third flavor (like peanut butter) to choose as your base. There are also preset topping combinations or you can pick your own. Wooberry is quite generous with its cheesecake bits.
- Belsito's, 305 Plantation St, ☏ . Tiny Italian deli serving cheap, but high quality subs in a quiet residential neighborhood. There's only a handful of tables and it is cash only, but certainly one of the better options for a cheap lunch.
- Bay State Shawarma & Grill, 86 Water St, ☏ . Super cheap falafel and shawarma restaurant. You can just get a sandwich, or order a full meal with sides. Either way, nothing on the menu is more than $10.
- Vintage Grille, 346 Shrewsbury St., ☏ . Auto-themed bar and grill in an old auto repair shop near the top of Shrewbury St. Vintage Grille has an over-the-top spin on your typical bar food, with burgers and sandwiches piled with more toppings than might seem sensible. The restaurant isn't very big, but in the summer the garage doors retract making the entire space open air and an outdoor seating area pops up. The wall are decorated with old license plates and other car paraphernalia and you can enjoy your gigantic meal with a small selection of beer. It's not the best selection, but you can get local brews from Wormtown for less than they cost at the brewery down the street. Cocktails should be avoided as they are mostly pre-made mixes.
- Napoli Deli, 79 S Quinsigamond Ave, Shrewsbury, ☏ . Napoli is a small deli on the east shore of Lake Quinsigamond that serves mostly Italian food. Think Italian subs, foccaccia sandwiches, eggplant parm, and arancini. The prices are very low and the portions are big. The interior is pretty simple, but has some tables where you can enjoy your food. They also serve breakfast.
- Gibson Brother's Dairy (Gibby's), 50 Sunderland Rd, ☏ . Ice cream stand owned by a local dairy farm. The ice cream is made with their own milk and there are plenty of flavors to choose from. Portion sizes are on the large side. Gibby's also carries soft serve. Cash only.
- El Basha, 256 Park Ave, ☏ . Cheap Middle Eastern food, especially on the lunch menu. El Basha is a full service sit-down restaurant, but their lunch menu prices are often lower than many simple takeout places. The portion size for the sandwiches (actually pita wraps) are ridiculous, you could easily share one. There is a nice selection of salads and other appetizers to choose from.
- Palma's Bakery, 3B Rice Square, ☏ . Small Italian deli and market serving a variety of sandwiches on home made bread.
Worcester is packed with neighborhood bakeries. Most people probably have a tribal loyalty to whatever their favorite is. You can find places that have been around for generations and hark back to the city's industrial heyday as well as newer, trendier spots.
- Birch Tree Bread Company, 138 Green St, Ste 5, ☏ . Huge bakery in the Crompton Loomworks above Crompton Collective. Birch Tree proudly features their bread, available for sale as either whole loaves or featured in a variety of lunch sandwiches and breakfast toasts. The sandwiches feature locally procured ingredients as do their salads. Their menu also includes a breakfast sandwich of egg, sharp cheddar, and smoked ham from BT's Smokehouse in Sturbrdge all served on a fresh croissant. It is only available before 11AM or on Sundays. The coffee is from Acoustic Java, a local roaster. The bakery and seating area are huge, easily accommodating the crowds. There are a variety of seating options scattered around the factory floor, from booths to small tables to couches.
- Crust Artisan Bakeshop, 118 Main St, ☏ . A small bakery owned by the same people as Worcester's famous Armsby Abbey. Limited, but well crafted selection. They do offer coffee to go, but no espresso drinks.
- Crown Bakery & Cafe, 133 Gold Star Blvd, ☏ . Without a doubt the city's most popular bakery. A veritable Worcester institution. Crown has a huge selection of pastries and cookies. They also serve sandwiches for lunch. Crown has less of focus on bread and is mainly known for its sweets.
- On the Rise Bakery, 1120 Pleasant St, ☏ . Small bakery in Tatnuck Square on the Westside.
Worcester is the center of the diner universe, being the hometown of the Worcester Lunch Car Company, which built most of the classic diner cars people associate with mid 20th century America. For breakfast the wealth of diners opens up and it is near impossible to choose. Here are some of the most cool and comfy:
- Corner Lunch, 133 Lamartine St, ☏ . A famous DeRaffelle diner.
- Parkway Diner, 148 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Well-known local diner. Also has a bar.
- Jeans Place, 136 Cambridge St, ☏ .
- Annie's Clark Brunch (formerly known as Wendy's). Regulars are allowed a tab.)
- 1 Boulevard Diner, 155 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . A favorite among college students, open 24 hours.
Some of the most popular restaurants in the city are in the $10-20 price range.
- Boynton Restaurant, 117 Highland St, ☏ . Popular hangout near the WPI campus. The Boynton has a massive menu focused on typical pub food like burgers and wings, but they have Italian and seafood dishes as well. The beer list is one of the main attractions here, with over 40 mostly craft beers on tap. They have a dedicated tap for Maine Beer Co and a range of local and national craft brews.
- O'Connor's Restaurant & Bar, 1160 West Boylston St, ☏ . Huge Irish pub on the outskirts of the city.
- The Armsby Abbey, 144 North Main St. Worcester's flagship farm-to-table restaurant is frequently chosen as the best restaurant in the city. The menu changes with the seasons and much of the meat and produce is sourced from New England. The interior is filled with dark wood and a large bar. The bar itself is a reason to come here as it has one of Worcester's best curated selections of beer and a respected cocktail selection.
- VIA Italian Table, 89 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Worcester's biggest and probably fanciest Italian restaurant. Very close to Union Station.
- Mare E Monti Trattoria, 19 Wall St, ☏ . Italian restaurant on a residential side street that is rapidly gaining a following. The bar area is the first thing that greets you makes it seem like a nightclub. Don't worry, just continue past into the simple dining room. There is a nice range of entrees, depending upon how much money you'd like to spend.
- Smokestack Urban BBQ, 139 Green St, ☏ . Worcester's biggest and best known BBQ joint also has a large beer selection and outdoor seating in the heart of the Canal District.
- Brew City Grill & Brew House, 104 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Brew City is a sports bar with slightly better food and 40 beers on tap. This is not really a fine dining experience or even a gastropub, but you can find reliable bar food at a reasonable price and wash it down with something other than Budweiser. The beer selection isn't particularly well curated, but with 40 options you should be able to find something to please everyone. The place can get pretty loud when its busy, but they are one of the few restaurants on Shrewsbury Street that has its own parking lot.
- Mezcal Tequila Cantina, 30 Major Taylor Blvd, ☏ . Upmarket Mexican restaurant occupying the first floor of a downtown parking garage. Mezcal is a huge and undeniably popular restaurant, but it is a bit divisive. Some people love it while others would say its not exactly authentic and a little too pricey. If what you want is a $10-15 burrito and a cocktail served in a classier than your typical cantina environment, Mezcal won't disappoint.
- Volturno, 72 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Big Neapolitan pizza place in an old Buick dealership. Volturno can get a little spendy for pizza, but they also offer 2-for-1 pizzas on Monday and Tuesday. There is a nice patio and a decent selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.
Worcester's fanciest dining establishments will set you back at least $20 and probably more than $30 per person.
- 111 Chop House, 111 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Worcester's fanciest steakhouse. If you want to blow your budget, eat here.
- The Flying Rhino Cafe and Watering Hole, 278 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Much better than the name suggests.
- Sole Proprietor, 118 Highland St, ☏ . Large and popular seafood restaurant, one of the city's fine dining standbys
- Baba Restaurant and Sushi Bar, 309 Park Ave, ☏ . One of the city's most popular sushi spots. More expensive than most, but also very highly rated.
- Bocado, 82 Winter St, ☏ . Tapas and wine bar in a restored mill building. Bocado has an enormous, some might say overwhelming menu of mostly Spanish inspired options. In addition to tapas, you can get Paella to share with several people. Although Bocado is in a historic building, the interior is fairly modern and doesn't display much except for some exposed brick. This is a recurring issue in Worcester restaurants. Calling this a splurge is a bit deceiving since it's tapas. You can get a meal here for a completely reasonable amount of money, or break the bank.
- Nuovo, 92 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Upscale Italian restaurant. Sometimes has a piano player in the lounge.
- Lock 50, 50 Water St, ☏ . Restaurant with a focus on small plates and cocktails. There are also a few large shareable entrees and a selection of fine cocktails and draft beer. Lock 50 also operates a more casual cafe in the front room during breakfast and lunch hours.
Worcester has a nightlife option to suit everyone. You can attend a lecture or poetry reading at a coffeeshop, find a bar to quench all thirsts, dance the night away in a nightclub, or take in some live music.
Worcester has a lot of bars as a result of its large college population. Unfortunately for the traveler, this makes many of them feel rather samey. For anyone interested in the raucous college set, the Blackstone Canal District is a good place to look, especially Water St. Still, with this many bars there are some unique and interesting spots that tipplers should explore.
- Vincent's, 49 Suffolk St. Where else can you get meatball subs and $2 Gansetts served by shirt and tie wearing bar staff? Vincent's has only been around since 1997, but it certainly feels much older. The inside is dark and dingy and the walls are covered with taxidermy. They usually have live music at night and its always free. The beer selection is pretty terrible, but they have strong cocktails and fussing about the drinks quality is missing the point. Vincent's does serve food. Your options consist of a meatball or sausage sandwich, ziti with meatball or sausage, wachusett potato chips, or a "cheese plate" which consists of a sleeve of saltines and a bunch of cheddar. In the summer, take advantage of the back yard which includes a wooden shack with a porch to sit on, a covered patio, and a fairly well manicured lawn. Vincent's is in a residential area across the street from a large and possibly abandoned warehouse so although it might seem like you've gotten lost, you have actually found one of Worcester's hidden treasures.
- The Dive Bar, 34 Green St. Not actually a dive bar, despite the name and appearance from the outside and lack of signage. Inside you will find a dark, intimate atmosphere with a well curated selection of mostly American craft beer. The narrow, dingy interior is partially a relic of its previous incarnation as a dive bar, but is decorated with diving paraphernalia (get it?) There is an enormous back porch lined with hop trellises/drink shelves to enjoy in the warmer months. From the porch, you can enjoy the huge mural decorating the back of the building and a view of downtown Worcester's skyline peeking out from behind the elevated railroad tracks. Cash only, does not serve food, but there's usually a food cart parked out front.
- The Armsby Abbey, 144 North Main St. Frequently wins the award for Worcester's best bar. Big and always changing selection of craft beer from all over the world. Armsby Abbey and its sister bar Dive Bar are the only places to regularly carry Hill Farmstead beers on tap in the entire state. That, combined with Armsby's ever-changing line up of American craft beers and Belgian ales make it a destination for beer lovers. Armsby also has a large cocktail program with a frequently changing lineup and very knowledgeable bar tenders. It is decidedly not cheap, but is a bargain for visitors from larger cities.
- 1 Ralph's Chadwick Square Diner, 148 Grove Street (90 Prescott Street), ☏ . 4PM-2AM everyday. Legendary rock nightclub. Entertainment every night. It is on an unpaved drive behind an old factory building north of downtown. Look for the big neon "Ralph's" sign. There is actually a diner car here. Inside you can get a burger, hot dog, or chili. Emphatically not a craft beer bar. $2 Gansett drafts are the mainstay here. The main bar area is filled with ridiculous decorations, including a coffin.
- Hotel Vernon. Kelly Square. $1 drafts (Gansett, Bush, Pabst), pool, darts. A backroom decorated to look like the inside of a ship (the Ship Room). It is beneath a "rooms by the week" hotel. Had a speakeasy in the basement during the Prohibition, still partially intact. Hotel Vernon is considered by some to be a dive bar, but is also one of the most eclectic places to have a drink in the city. The bar attracts college students, townies, aging hipsters, white collar office workers, and people from the rural areas surrounding the city.
- Guertin's, Off Canterbury Street. Beautiful woodwork, $1.50 drafts.
- Nick's Bar, 124 Millbury St, ☏ . Nick's might be the classiest bar in the city if you ignore the location in one of Worcester's seedier areas. Not a great beer bar, but they are known to have good/strong cocktails. There is no drink menu, the bartenders can make most anything and even choose a drink for you crafted to your personal tastes. Staff is formally dressed and there is a great lounge for listening to Jazz music. Lots of wood.
- Breen's Cafe, 18 Cambridge St, ☏ . Comfortable neighborhood pub with a small food menu and a few beers on tap. The crowd is mostly regulars, but its a welcoming place. Drinks are cheap and strong. This is a good place to sit with friends and contemplate the Schlitz-holding leprechaun painted on the ceiling.
A number of restaurants mentioned in the eat section also have good bars. The Boynton has one of the largest selections of craft beer in Worcester. O'Connors is a popular Irish pub with a decent beer selection. Smokestack Urban BBQ also has an extensive beer selection and outdoor seating. Bocado has a large wine selection and is known for their sangria.
- The Muse, 536 Main St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Cocktail bar with an extensive menu of drinks and the ingredients to make you pretty much anything. The Muse also features local artists for wall decor and maintains a good list of draft beer. Also known locally for their selection of amari.
Worcester has a selection of established breweries that are well-known in the region as well as a handful of funkier upstarts. The city's brewing scene is not quite as dense as other better known New England brewing meccas, but Worcester is emerging as a beer destination in its own right.
- Wormtown Brewery, 72 Shrewsbury St. Unit 4, ☏ . 2014 Grand National Champion at the U.S. Open Beer Championship. Wormtown just moved to a bigger space with a dedicated taproom on Worcester's restaurant row. They don't serve food, but there are dozens of restaurants right up the street, including two in the same building. The tap room is bright an airy and the back wall is lined with huge windows so you can see into the brewery. Samples, full pours, and growlers are available. There is also an outdoor seating area with tables and a few couches for the warmer months. Wormtown is known for their aggressively hoppy IPAs, especially their flagship Be Hoppy and the over 8% alcohol Hopulence Double IPA.
- Redemption Rock Brewing, 333 Shrewsbury St, ☏ . Craft brewery with a funky asthetic and plenty of board games. They brew a wide range of styles and also serve coffee.
- Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company, 55 Millbrook St #2804, ☏ . Craft brewery focused on brewing imperial strength beers (8% ABV and above) that is known for its IPAs. Pulp and Pulp Daddy are the most famous varieties. The taproom also serves a small food menu.
- Wachusett Brew Yard, 152 Green St (Inside Worcester Public Market), ☏ . Worcester outpost of Central Massachusetts' original craft brewery. This location is primarily a taproom with outdoor seating spilling onto the sidewalk in warmer months, but they do have a pilot brewing system on site. Almost always has beers that aren't sold anywhere other than at one of Wachusett's locations. Does not serve food, but you can bring your own from any of the multiple vendors in the public market.
- Bay State Brewery & Taproom, 112 Harding St (Inside Worcester Ice Center), ☏ . Craft brewery conveniently located inside a hockey rink. They have ample indoor seating and a food menu.
- Double Down Brewing Company, 455 Park Ave B, ☏ .
Worcester is not a coffee drinkers' mecca. There aren't many non-Dunkin Donuts options to begin with and those that do exist probably won't excite anyone from Seattle, yet there are a few places with a decent atmosphere where you can get your fix.
- Bean Counter Coffee Bar & Bakery (Lombardi Bakery Service), 113 Highland St, ☏ . Worcester's most popular coffee shop on bustling Highland St. Very close to WPI's campus. Also a good spot for baked goods.
- Acoustic Java, 932 Main St, ☏ . Funky coffee shop on the door step of Clark University. Acoustic Java is your classic cramped college coffeehouse. They have crammed an impressive amount of seating into this tiny space in an old storefront in Main South. The coffees served are their own roasts and they offer espresso drinks and will give you a real mug to drink from. Beware, the quality is inconsistent since the place is staffed mostly by students. Acoustic also has a food menu featuring sandwiches, wraps, and salads which is quite vegan friendly. Acoustic has live music on occasion (hence the name).
- NU Cafe, 335 Chandler St, ☏ . Large cafe with tons of coffee and smoothie options down the street from Worcester State University. Also serves a few draft beers and wine. There is a light food menu (salads, sandwiches) as well. NU hosts a series of monthly science lectures and occasional live music.
Oddly enough, two of the better places to get a coffee in Worcester aren't primarily coffee shops. Crust Artisan Bakeshop in the downtown serves Northborough's Armeno Coffee Roasters, although they do not have an espresso machine. Birch Tree Bread Company is a huge bakery in the old Crompton Loomworks building that also has good coffee options and an espresso machine.
Worcester is a somewhat notably dangerous city for the Northeast, to the point you might need some advice to stay out of danger. Street crime during the day is very rare but it can happen in dodgier neighborhoods. In particular, the entire southern half of the city is comprised of lower income neighborhoods that have somewhat common crime, but are safe to walk through during the day as long as you have common sense. The part of the city that tourists should really steer clear of is the Pleasant St/Chandler St area, going into downtown; while not one of the worse off parts of the city, it is infamous for being a hot spot for both violent crime and drug related crimes, which for better or worse the police seem to have little control over. Most of Worcester's homeless population also lives in this area; be respectful and don't harass them, and if you want to help don't record it. Walking around this area at any time is opening yourself up to violent crime, and at night even driving through these streets can be dangerous, as a lot of Uber drivers will avoid the area during late hours. If you take the bus or are walking in a poor area do not show off your phone or anything else that could be valuable, pickpocketing is semi-common. You might also hear about gang activity in the more business oriented parts of the city near Auburn but this is not really a problem for most people. Just like any other city, keep basic caution even in the "safe" areas.
The city of Worcester itself doesn't have very many hotels. There are a few downtown and a few clustered around UMass Medical School on the Eastside. There aren't any unique or boutique hotels, just standard chains aimed at business travelers and parents of college students.
- 1 Beechwood Hotel, 363 Plantation St, ☏ , fax: . 2 miles from downtown, near all major business centers and universities. Worcester's fanciest hotel. From $170.
- 2 Courtyard Marriott Worcester, 72 Grove St, ☏ , fax: . Business hotel in Gateway Park near WPI. From $120.
- 3 Holiday Inn Express, 110 Summer St, ☏ . From $95.
- 4 Hilton Garden Inn Worcester, 35 Major Taylor Blvd, ☏ , fax: . Downtown hotel near the DCU Center. From $115.
- 5 Hotel Vernon, Kelly Square. In a pinch? $100/week, bar downstairs.
- 6 Residence Inn, 503 Plantation St, ☏ , fax: . From $120.
- Quality Inn and Suites, 50 Oriol Dr (exit 20 off I-290), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. From $90.
The following hotels are in Auburn, which is another town. This distinction is irrelevant except that you must remember to put in "Auburn" as the town on your GPS since some of the street names are also found in Worcester, Southbridge St being one of the city's main throughfares which extends into Auburn.
Worcester is in the center of New England and an easy drive to many destinations.
- Boston and its numerous attractions are about an hour to the east.
- Providence-Here you will find Brown University, renowned art museums, exciting food, and unique neighborhoods. All within a 45 minute drive south from Worcester.
- Pioneer Valley-This valley is home to many colleges, funky towns, and the urban grit and cultural attractions of Springfield. In addition, there are hiking opportunities in the hills above the valley and the region has some of the Commonwealth's best farmland. About an hour west of Worcester.
- Monadnock Region-The Monadnock Region of New Hampshire is about an hour north of Worcester. Here you will find hiking opportunities and the adorable college town of Keene.
|Routes through Worcester|
|Albany (Rensselaer) ← Springfield ←||W E||→ Framingham → Boston|
|Springfield ← Sturbridge ← rest area ←||W E||→ Millbury → Boston|
|Fitchburg ← Sterling ←||N S||→ Ends at|
|Becomes ←||W E||→ Shrewsbury → Marlborough|
|Becomes ←||N S||→ Oxford → Norwich|
|Springfield ← Oxford ←||W E||→ Shrewsbury → Boston|
|Northampton ← Brookfields ←||W E||→ Shrewsbury → Boston|
|Ends at ←||N S||→ Millbury → Providence|
|END ←||W E||→ Westborough → Boston|